Gaming – a term that brings to mind button-mashing in front of a flickering screen to make sure the little plumber man gets to the right castle. Of course, the kiddos might have a totally different idea. Here in Singapore, beyond Candy Crush, Pokémon Go and Minecraft, there lies a bigger world of gaming. E3, the biggest gaming convention of the year, streamed to all corners of the globe, wrapped up just last month, the Steam Summer Sale sent people wild and eSports has made it to TV. If none of that made any sense, this is the guide for you!
If you’ve been overlooking game ratings, now’s the time to pay attention. Games can be violent, especially Triple A titles (think Hollywood blockbusters). It is arguably cartoon violence, but there are adult themes in popular games such as GTA V (Grand Theft Auto V). Shooting people and stealing cars can be a fun escape for adults (no judgment) but is definitely not for kids!
Check each game for these ratings, courtesy of the Entertainment Rating Software Board (ESRB):
- EC: Early Childhood
- E: Everyone
- E 10+: Everyone 10+
- T: Teen
- M: Mature
- A: Adults Only
- RP: Rate Pending
Most of us know games to be played mainly on consoles like Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo DS or the Wii U, but there’s an ever increasing market of games on the PC (and increasingly, gaming PCs). The same game may or may not be available to play on different platforms (see: Doom), but new consoles are being released so often, it’s almost impossible to keep up anyway. Case in point, the Nintendo Switch, a ‘hybrid’ console, came out earlier this year.
Steam – the biggest online store for games
It’s cheaper to buy games online and the biggest online store is Steam, but they can only be played on your PC and accessed through your Steam account so you can’t resell or trade them. Steam does hold frequent sales during the summer and winter or even weekly through the Humble Bundle where you can get games for cheap and donate to charity. Of course, because it’s the internet, there are games for – ahem – mature audiences but you can always lock the account using Family View to make sure your kids aren’t seeing anything they shouldn’t. If you’re thinking of getting family-friendly games, try Scribblenauts Unlimited for some single-player fun; or LEGO Marvel Super Heroes for co-op (cooperative) play with friends.
VR – virtual reality
Technology’s certainly advanced since the Wii and science fiction is slowly becoming a reality as VR is currently pushing its way into the market and even the classroom. But did you know it also brings equally immersive gaming experiences through VR headsets? They’re a little pricey, but after a few years, you can bet the kiddos will start clamouring for one.
TCG – Trading Card Games
With the Pokémon cards craze among primary school students, it’s impossible to not know about trading cards. They’re often sold as booster packs in Popular and in most Singapore schools’ bookshops. Most kids collect and trade them for bragging rights – kids! – but did you know they can also be used to play games? There are informal and formal tournaments held for TCGs both online and offline. Some card games such as Dinosaur King can even be played in arcades in Singapore by inserting the cards into the machines.
What are eSports?
Though it’s unlikely the younger kiddos will be interested, the teens might be involved in eSports. There’s a big community of gamers in Singapore (and Southeast Asia) who plays eSports such as League of Legends (LoL, not to be confused with ‘laugh out loud’) and Starcraft 2. The draw is partly the potential to win prize money by participating in tournaments. eSports teach strategy and teamwork just like any other sport, but be aware that most communities aren’t exactly kid-friendly and playing can sap up a lot of time.
So your kid wants to film or stream themselves playing games… (yes it’s a thing)
Whether it’s taking turns to use the only two controllers or just watching that one cousin absolutely dominate in Halo, sometimes it’s nice to sit back and watch other people play. Of course, some people decided to go the extra mile and record footage of gameplay, sometimes with commentary, and slap it onto Youtube, thus the Let’s Play (LP) was born. Since 2010, gaming on YouTube has boomed – thousands record videos of themselves playing games for thousands more to watch, even making a living through ad revenue (yes, being a gamer is an actual job). In addition to the LP, livestreaming (or live game gameplay) has become a big part of online gaming, streaming to sites like Youtube and Twitch.tv. Livestreams work like live TV except it’s free to watch and you can interact directly with the players and other viewers through chat. Unfortunately, chats aren’t always moderated and neither are LPers so it’s good to keep an eye on what your kid watches in case they run into rude people.
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